Daubert Standard

The Daubert Standard and Admitting Expert Testimony

By Brandon Sample | February 21, 2019

Scientific evidence can be very persuasive to a jury and has the potential to seriously sway the outcome of a trial. This is why the Supreme Court put standards in place for how a district court must evaluate whether expert testimony and scientific evidence can be admitted at trial. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals…

Criminal Forfeiture

Criminal Forfeiture and Substitute Property

By Brandon Sample | February 17, 2019

If a defendant is charged with a crime, the government may also bring a criminal forfeiture action to collect the property used in the criminal activity. When the defendant’s actual property is not available, the government can obtain an order for the value of the property instead. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tackled the…

Excessive Fines

Eighth Amendment’s Prohibition on Excessive Fines

By Brandon Sample | February 13, 2019

Fines and asset forfeiture are common elements of sentencing in cases involving theft or fraud. The government can seize a defendant’s assets that are alleged to have been involved in his criminal activities. However, the court may order that assets be turned back over to the defendant at sentencing. One of the ways that defendants…

Sentence Reduction

Sentence Reduction: Adopting the Letter, Not the Spirit of the Law

By Brandon Sample | January 25, 2019

If a criminal defendant is at the point of already being convicted and sentenced to prison time for a federal offense, then a sentence reduction is a positive development. But what happens if the district court disagrees with an appellate court order for a sentence reduction based on the unreasonableness of the original sentence? The…

Criminal Restitution

Supreme Court Narrows Federal Criminal Restitution

By Brandon Sample | January 13, 2019

According to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), defendants convicted of crimes in federal court are required to pay their victims criminal restitution for the losses that they suffered. The case of Lagos v. United States involved an issue of interpretation over the act’s language regarding what types of losses would be eligible for restitution.…

Fine For Tax Evasion

Second Circuit Affirms $10 Million Fine for Tax Evasion

By Brandon Sample | January 11, 2019

Tax evasion is a serious crime that can result in prison time and hefty fines. Defendants convicted of tax-related crimes typically receive a downward variance from the applicable sentencing range according to the Sentencing Guidelines. However, the opposite proved true for a wealthy defendant involved in a high-profile tax case in New York. The Second…

Guilty Plea

The Effect of a Guilty Plea on an Appeal

By Brandon Sample | January 10, 2019

A guilty plea does not necessarily mean that a criminal defendant gives up the right to appeal his conviction. If the defendant seeks to challenge the constitutionality of the statute that he pled guilty to violating, he may still have the right to a direct appeal from a district court’s decision. This is the principle…

Capital Punishment, Eighth Amendment

Capital Punishment and the Eighth Amendment

By Brandon Sample | January 9, 2019

The Supreme Court is preparing to decide a complex appeal in Moore v. Texas, which involves a defendant who was convicted of murder and sentenced to execution but claims that he is intellectually disabled. Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in 2002 in Atkins v. Virginia, it is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment to execute…

Right to Counsel

Does Right to Counsel Begin Before Indictment?

By Brandon Sample | January 8, 2019

A defendant on trial in a criminal proceeding is entitled to an attorney for his defense. In the event that a defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one. This tenet of U.S. criminal law is widely known and has been a basic principle of criminal procedure since the country was founded. The…

Confidential Business Information, mail and wire fraud statutes

Wire Fraud and Stealing Confidential Business Information

By Brandon Sample | January 7, 2019

Employees of corporations have varying levels of access to the corporation’s information that the business may consider confidential. One significant source of criminal prosecutions is the use of confidential information by employees for their own personal gain and to the detriment of the company. When does benefiting from confidential business information cross the legal line?…